Destinations 14 Virtual Experiences to Take You Around the World

by Pavia Rosati and Jeralyn Gerba | May 14, 2020

Photo courtesy of The New York Botanical Garden

It’s amazing what you can discover and experience — art, food, nature, performance — with a zippy internet connection from the comforts of home.

You can explore an architect’s desert masterpiece. Get cooking lessons from a celebrity chef. And even watch your favorite musician jam in her living room. A little imagination is all it takes to easily transform virtual experiences into shared ones.

Here are 14 truly transportive online adventures that you can take anytime. And, here’s a budget-friendly bonus: there’s no ticket price or cost for admission for any of them.

Taliesin West Music Pavilion Photo by Andrew Pielage
Photo courtesy of Taliesin West

Museums

Many of the world’s most well-known museums have thrown open their doors, figuratively speaking, by putting their collections online at Google Arts & Culture for virtual museum goers.

Make it a group event: Organize an online scavenger hunt with friends. Search for “museum scavenger hunt ideas” to find pre-written lists for adults and children.

Taliesin West

Take an interactive, 3-D tour through Taliesin West, the winter home and design laboratory of master architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Built in 1937 in Scottsdale, AZ, from local rocks and desert sand, the National Historic Landmark and UNESCO World Heritage Site is the first of Wright’s homes made virtually accessible, giving visitors access to private living spaces, work areas, reflecting pools and gardens.

British Museum

London’s British Museum offers many online exhibitions, but its Museum of the World experience is especially impressive and interactive, allowing users to scroll through artifacts from throughout human history. You can explore across time (since 2,000,000 BC) and geographies (including Africa, Asian, Oceania, Europe and America). Pop-up windows include detailed info and curated audio commentary.

National Gallery of Art

Established in 1937 for the American people, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, has certainly kept up with the times. In addition to interactive tours of current exhibitions, the museum’s offerings include highlights of its best pieces and “Connecting through Conversation,” a guide to sharing art with those suffering from memory loss and with multigenerational groups. Check out the interactive family activities and interviews with artists, architects and filmmakers.

Vatican Museum

The 360-degree tour of the Vatican Museum’s best fresco-filled rooms gives visitors closer access than they could ever get in real life — all without the crowds that can typically obstruct the views. This includes one the most famous attractions in the world: The Sistine Chapel.

A photo of a leopard in a tree taken while on a virtual safari at Singita Sabi.
Photo courtesy of Singita and Ross Couper

Nature

You may be on a sofa, but you can also be on an African savanna or in an underground cave at the same time.

Make it interactive: Get out a sketchbook and draw what you see on the screen, then share your pics on social media.

Safari game drives

Singita, the pioneering sustainable African safari company, records live game drives through the Singita Sabi Sand concession in South Africa, and then posts the high-quality videos of elephants, cheetahs, zebras and more to its online channel.

Orchid show

Take a glorious, 20-minute tour through a riot of color that is the orchid show at the New York Botanical Garden. And don’t miss the Palm Dome Interactive Mobile Guide, for 360-degree views you couldn’t otherwise experience, like looking down onto towering palms.

Underground cave

Cherry blossoms may be a more famous attraction, but the limestone cave and underground lake at Makido Cave in Okayama, Japan, are a wonder of stalactites, stalagmites and other mineral formations. Enhancing the virtual reality experience are a rainbow of LED lights and an atmospheric soundtrack of dripping water.

Interior space at Nowadays.
Photo courtesy of Nowadays

Theater and music

Snag a front row seat to see some of your favorite plays and big name bands. The curtain never comes down on special performances, and when it comes to music this is as good as unplugged gets.

Make it interactive: Schedule theater and concert viewing nights with friends — discuss over video chat with drinks after.

Virtually Nowadays

The Brooklyn dance club Nowadays has transformed itself into Virtually Nowadays, live streaming from 8 p.m. until midnight every night. Sets feature a mix of resident DJs, well-known locals, and international touring artists, alongside educational and community programming and fundraising.

Shakespeare in the Park

The Public Theater’s annual Shakespeare in the Park performance Much Ado About Nothing is among the hardest tickets to get in New York City. Last summer’s show — which saw the classic comedy interpreted through a modern filter — is streaming online.

Jam in the Van

The van — the symbol of ‘60s and ‘70s counterculture — continues the indie tradition inside Jam in the Van, the world’s only solar-powered mobile recording studio, where fans can interact with and discover bands through daily concerts and happy hours. Want to send out a long-distance dedication? Jam in the Van. They are happy to take requests.

Closeup of Christina Tosi in her kitchen in front of chalk lettered baking signs.
Christina Tosi. Photo courtesy of Milk Bar

Food

Food television gets even better when you’re cooking along with the chef (and see that accidents happen in their kitchens, too).

Make it interactive: Double the recipe and deliver it to neighbors or friends who could use a treat.

Christina Tosi

You loved her as a judge on top cooking challenge shows, you’re addicted to her Crack Pie from Milk Bar, and her daily baking club on social media is as whimsical as you’d expect. Christina Tosi posts ingredients the night before and leads class from her kitchen, whipping up Compost Pancakes, Choose Your Own Adventure Caramel and Cheez Ums, with themes like PJ party and movie nights, along with corresponding playlists.

Tim Hollingsworth

California-based chef Tim Hollingsworth is posting cooking videos to his online channel. The meals are great Americana — fried chicken, banana bread, mac ‘n’ cheese — and his how-tos include poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce. As an adorable bonus, he sometimes puts his toddlers to work as sous chefs.

Marco Canora

Chef/owner of Hearth in New York City, Marco Canora posts easy-to-follow recipes — with photos, instructions, and videos for anything tricky — for comfort food. Except for the brownies, he cooks Italian — focaccia, osso buco, pasta fagioli, biscotti and ribollita.

Pavia Rosati and Jeralyn Gerba

are the co-founders of Fathom, a women-led editorially driven travel website that connects passionate travelers to the world’s best places and experiences. In addition to the website and daily newsletter, Fathom has a bespoke concierge service and a podcast, A Way To Go. Their 2019 book Travel Anywhere (and Avoid Being a Tourist) has been published in eight countries.